this is "nightline." >> tonight, targeting sex trafficking. >> i am jess character i'm a proud survivor. >> she was sold online for sex. now she's standing with the president. >> a great piece of legislation, it's going to make a tremendous difference. >> the new ammunition in the fight against underaged prostitution. "nightline's" two-year journey with one family. >> how many encounters do you think you had during that time? >> over 150. >> over 150? >> yeah. >> from heartache to healing. >> i just want to hug you. >> okay, you can hug me. >> plus -- ♪ then a hero comes along >> she's a hero. the world-famous, chart-topping diva opening up about her private inner struggle.
>> she'd been suffering in silence for many, many years. >> and her wish for those facing similar situations. but first the "nightline 5." buy one, get one free, on top to bottom spring looks from arizona. taking an extra 20% off with jcpenney card and coupon. get your sunday vibes from your friends and your spring style from arizona. don't miss out only at jcpenney, style and value for all. allergy congestion can keep you from enjoying the moment. allegra d combines a fast, nondrowsy antihistamine with a powerful congestant to help you break through symptoms for 24 hours of relief. get back to the moment with allegr
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legislation targeted at classified sites like backpage.com signed into law. gloria riviera has been on this story for two years. >> i would like to thank all the representatives and the bipartisan leadership that it took to get this across the finish line and onto your desk. >> they really worked hard. thank you. >> thank you. >> reporter: today a mother's improbable victory. nicole and her daughter jessica, who says she was sold for sex on the website backpage.com when she was just 15 years old. joining president trump, surrounded by survivors, some teary, some joyful, as he signed the fight online sex trafficking act which gives prosecutors and victims more legal firepower. >> this is so important to all of us. and i thank you, mr. president, so much for signing this bill into law. >> reporter: ivonne's daughter ambrose was killed after being sold on backpage two years ago. she was just 16. >> it means so much to our
family. to lose your child. to have been trafficked, modern-day slavery -- >> reporter: outside the white house, the group that has become like family. >> i'll always feel that desiree is with me. she gave me the words. she wanted me to speak out for her, in her honor. >> reporter: backpage.com, shut down in a federal raid last friday, operated as a classified ad website whose racy sections like "escorts" and "body rubs" law enforcement called thinly-veiled code for prostitution, much of it underage. in the past many have filed lawsuits claiming backpage facilitates prostitution. a law called the communications decency act has protected the site. under the new law, companies will be held liable for knowingly facilitating online prostitution. >> it's a great day for those women and girls and boys who have been trafficked. because they now have the opportunity to seek justice. >> reporter: it's the latest reckoning for backpage after
seven of its executives federally indicted last week on 93 counts for promoting prostitution and money laundering. >> was today a little bit of closure for you this. >> yes. >> it is really truly a day for real healing to really truly begin. our voices were heard. it wasn't in vain. their pain was not in vain today. >> reporter: we first met nicole and jessica two years ago. at the time she asked us to call her natalie. now she says she's ready to reclaim her true identity. >> i am not natalie. i am not j.s. i am not a title on a lawsuit. or an alias used on backpage. i'm not any of those things. i am jessica. i am a proud survivor, a mother, a daughter, a sister. i am all of these things that i want to be known for who i am.
and not just what's happened to me. >> reporter: as a high school freshman, she says she was sold for sex on backpage.com after running away from home. how many encounters do you think i you had during that time? >> over 150. >> over 150? >> yeah. >> would that have been possible without backpage? >> no way. >> reporter: she said her pimp preferred the site. >> what did he say about backpage? >> he said it's safer, it's easier not to get caught. but me in all these clothes. took pretty provocative pictures of me. and then go to backpage and you can click on post an ad. >> how dooften did you work? >> every day. it's too simple. ask if you're 18 or over, a simple yes click was as far as that went. >> it tore our family apart. >> reporter: her father, tom, spent nights looking for her. >> what ran through my mind is what i was going to do, how i
was going to handle it when i found her. >> reporter: after many months, jessica was freed after a raid by police. finally going home. it wasn't easy for anyone. >> i didn't know how to treat her. i didn't know if she wanted me to hug her. it was awkward. first time since the day she was born. you know, and i was the first one to hold her and see her. i cut her umbilical cord. i felt awkward to hold my own kid. >> reporter: we teamed up with seattle's vice squad to find out for ourselves how simple it was for young girls to be sold online. this undercover detective created an ad for an 18-year-old girl named angel, adding a critical detail. >> here's the kicker, right? younger friend. >> reporter: within minutes of pressing post, the ad was up and running. >> that's the way you figure out -- [ phone ringing ] >> we've gotten several phone calls, texts. another call. they're really coming in. hey, beautiful, are you angel?
right then there's another one. it hasn't been up for half an hour. this is crazy. >> reporter: this post actually led to a real-life arrest. >> stay here, stay here, it's okay. >> shut up! >> he tried to bolt. >> police, you're under arrest. >> reporter: back page did tell us they make sure to always cooperate with law enforcement investigations. they also touted a multi-tiered system for screening their adult ads, including employing moderators, a filter for key words, and a user-reported flagging system. but last year a u.s. senate report found backpage was using that key word filter to actively edit adult ads, erasing words like lolita, little girl, and amber alert, to hide underaged trafficking. >> the fact that these terms were stripped out through this screening process does not mean that that girl's age was magically changed. >> reporter: that senate report
playing a crucial role in jessica's goal of holding backpage accountable. she and her family ultimately sued backpage and reached a settlement. her case the first to focus on the claim the site was editing ads. one of the executives allegedly behind the practice, ceo karl ferrer. back in 2015, he had been a no-show when initially called to answer questions on capitol hill. but we tracked him down overseas. here we are in amsterdam. why? we realized that backpage.com was sold to an unnamed dutch holding company. we started looking. did karl ferrer own companies in amsterdam? ferrer seemed to be running other escort websites from abroad, including a site similar called cracker, available nearly everywhere except the u.s. ferrer has turned down interview requests so we've come to this hotel in amsterdam, we found out there's a conference karl is scheduled to attend.
karl ferrer? we've been looking for you, do you have a second? i'm gloria riviera with abc news. we want to ask you a few questions. >> oh, no comment. >> law enforcement tells us that underage girls are trafficked on backpage.com, your company. >> no comment. >> we saw a real-life example of this last week -- >> i'm sorry. >> you're a father what would you want to say to him? he wants to know why this is going on. >> please -- >> reporter: months later authorities arrested ferrer and backpage owners michael lacy and james larkin. on state charges in california of pimping underage victims and other felonies. those charges were dropped, judges citing cda protection. in early 2017, backpage juttives were again called to testify on capitol hill. >> after consultation with counsel, i decline to answer your question. >> reporter: now backpage appears to be gone for good, with the recent charges against larkin, lacy, and several other executives. ferrer was not named in last week's federal indictment of
backpage executives. but the initials "c.f." are included throughout the document. >> my sense is c.f. is likely carl ferrer. and that he made a deal with the government to provide information and probably for a lesser sentence. >> reporter: that indictment says the company earned over $500 million in prostitution-related revenue since its inception and that virtually every dollar flowing into backpage's coffers represents the proceeds of illegal activity. >> the argument was always, well, it's very difficult to police the internet. they would say, we can't be held responsible for millions and millions of content providers. well, this law now makes it very clear that they must do it. >> reporter: jessica says there will always be more work to do. >> i hope it's inspiring for people, that you know, if you're fighting for something that's
for a good cause, then don't stop until you get what you want. >> reporter: neither mother nor daughter ever stopped fighting for each other and all daughters for sale. >> i want to hug you. >> okay, you can hug me. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm gloria riviera in washington, d.c. next, mariah carey baring her emotions publicly, opening up about a very personal struggle. hais not always easy. severe plaque psoriasis it's a long-distance run and you have the determination to keep going. humira has a proven track record of being prescribed for over ten years. it's the #1 prescribed biologic by dermatologists. more than 250,000 patients have chosen humira to fight their psoriasis. and they're not backing down. for most patients clearer skin is the proof. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma have happened,
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name. today she's revealing a 17-year-long mental health struggle. ariel rachef has the story. ♪ ♪ >> reporter: she's the grammy award-winning diva with 18 number one hits. "heartbreaker." ♪ break my heart >> reporter: "emotion." ♪ emotion >> reporter: "we belong together." ♪ we belong together >> reporter: the single biggest christmas sorchg ng of all-time. ♪ all i want for christmas is you ♪ >> reporter: that incredible vocal range. ♪ >> reporter: behind the chart-topping success and glamorous exterior, superstar mariah carey revealing today a private struggle, telling "people" magazine about her 17-year battle with bipolar disorder saying, until recently i lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me. it was too heavy a burden to carry and i simply couldn't do that anymore."
>> she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in 2001. and she did not want to believe it. she believed it was something that could really damage her career. and so she didn't get treatment for it. and i think that we saw the effects of that over the years. >> reporter: almost 6 million americans suffer from bipolar disorder. symptoms like extreme highs and lows, and prolonged sleeplessness. dr. robi ludwig is a psychotherapist. she has not treated mariah but has worked with other patients with bipolar disorder. is it surprising to see a celebrity like mariah carey be diagnosed with bipolar? >> i'm not really shocked when i see anyone diagnosed with a mental health issue. it's probably more common to have a mental health issue than not. >> tell us exactly what bipolar 2 disorder is. >> bipolar disorder is a mood disorder with very high highs and very low lows.
bipolar 2 disorder like mariah will have hypermania. they might feel grandiose, they might have feel hypersexualized, they might have poor judgment, they might be irritable. >> reporter: carey posting, i'm grateful to be sharing this part of my life with you. >> she described periods of loneliness, sadness, she couldn't sleep, she was up working. she'd work and work and work and work until she hit a wall. >> reporter: online a tidal wave of support. fans responding, thank you for being grave and a voice for mental illness, we got your back. on twitter the national alliance on mental illness tweeting, you are not alone, you are inspiring so many by sharing your experience with bipolar disorder, thank you for being stigma-free. carey says she realized her struggle with bipolar disorder the same year she released "glitter" featuring singles like "lover boy."
♪ that mere, 2001, marked strange occurrences in her life including this bizarre impromptu appearance on mtv's "total request live." >> mariah carey is stripping. >> reporter: one week later she was hospitalized for physical and mental exhaustion. should these have been red flags? >> you can see manic or odd behavior and it may not be due to having bipolar illness, it may be due to something else. >> reporter: despite being diagnosed 17 years ago, carey telling "people" she didn't want to believe it. >> she said she sought treatment after having what she called the hardest couple of years that she'd ever gone through. we saw some of those years play out in public. there was a brief engagement. she was doing a reality show on television where everyone was like, why is she doing that reality show? >> i can certainly see where it would be scary for any celebrity to reveal the darker side or the
less-beautiful side of life that they're dealing with. because of fear that they will lose fans or might not be as vied for. >> reporter: during her career she has been open about her personal life. here backstage with michael strahan on the set of her vegas residency in 2015. >> it's like a clean slate. it's not just a show, it's the album, number one to infinity. it's the show, number one to infinty. it's the place i'm at in my life, which as brand-new moment for me. >> reporter: inviting barbara walters into her home with her family in 2013. carey says she is now in therapy and taking medication. what would make someone who receives that kind of diagnosis delay treatment? >> when someone has bipolar disorder, very often they feel good. so it could be that mariah was feeling good more often than she was feeling bad. and that she was just in denial, couldn't believe that she had this diagnosis. which is not so uncommon. >> reporter: recently, other celebrities have gone public
about their struggles with mental health, like demi lovato. >> i actually have bipolar disorder. and i'm very open about that. because i think that mental health affects so many people. and we need to take the stigma away from it. >> when a celebrity comes out and talks about anything that is a personal struggle, it is going to help other people going through the same thing. it's going to lift the stigma. it's going to make it okay to talk about it. whether it's princess diana talking about an eating disorder, whether it's betty ford talking about alcoholism. these are really, really powerful messages to people. >> reporter: carey telling "people" she also hopes her revelation will hope remove the stigma from her condition, potentially giving hope to people who feel alone. >> i have many people with bipolar disorder in my practice. they live highly successful lives, both personally and professionally. there's no reason why they can't. it's not a prescription for a
disastrous life or hopelessness at all. >> mariah carey is one of the biggest music stars on the planet. to hear someone like that whose work and voice and talent is in our dna talk about this vulnerability is an incredibly powerful message that will give people a lot of hope. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm ariel rechef in new york. next, hoop dreams for a 30-something rookie. so, what's new? we just switched to geico and got more. more? they've been saving folks money for over 75 years. a company you can trust. geico even helped us with homeowners insurance. more sounds great. gotta love more... right, honey? yeah!
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court tonight. the oldest newest rookie in the nba. >> throwing it up and throwing it in, andre ingram, the new kid -- >> after ten years of waiting in the wings, in the minor leagues, 32-year-old andre ingram got the call of a lifetime. >> the l.a. lakers want to call you up. sign you the rest of the season. >> i wondered why those two big
guys were back here, wow. >> scoring 19 points in his nba debut tuesday. >> ingram three, yes! >> even taking home the game ball. now that's the man with both passion and patience. it was the 18th century philosopher jean jacques russo who said, patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. thank you for watching "nightline." as always on our "nightline" facebook page. thanks for the company, america.